The internet is rife with comedic images known as 'memes'. The meme (pronounced 'meem') has been around in some form since the 90s, and the term has stretched to encompass a variety of internet comedy styles. From viral videos such as the Harlem Shake to fun image captions to basic comic strips, and even cat photos.
The word meme was actually coined by English biologist, Richard Dawkins. Dawkins used this word in one of his books to explain the way cultural information can spread across a population.
Internet memes have been popular with the younger generations for years now however, the rest of the population is just starting to catch on. While these trends typically have no commercial aspect, their ability to spread and become known by millions of people across the world is the perfect example of viral marketing, and something marketers strive to achieve.
The question is, what can we learn from this internet sensation, and how can we use it to improve marketing and brand recognition? Many marketers have tried to use memes in their marketing campaigns by simply inserting certain characters or quotes into their scripts or graphics. While this seems like a good idea, these types of ads typically receive attention for the wrong reasons. In order to keep the adverts from offending anyone, humour often has to be removed, which can stop these adverts from being funny and make them more cringy.
While memes are often used in marketing unsuccessfully there are a few exceptions. One of our favourites was for a Swedish railway, who used the character Doge to sell more train tickets. This worked well as the character Dog (Shiba Inu dog surrounded by poor grammar riddled phrases) isn't offensive to anyone, and so didn't have to be adapted.
Not everyone sees the funny side though, a Mexican politician has recently made the news after she tried to ban memes from the country. While we can understand her issue with offensive memes, most are fairly harmless. Because of this over the top stance on the medium, the internet retaliated by making memes of this politician.